Gas leak on vessel at Mazgaon dockyard kills naval officer

In yet another mishap aboard a vessel at the Mazgaon dockyard, a navy commander lost his life and two other officials from Mazgaon Dock Limited (MDL) took ill after a gas leak in an under-construction warship anchored near the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) a little after 12.30 pm on Friday.

Aslam Kazi (52) was rushed to Byculla’s Prince Aly Khan Hospital, where he is recuperating in the ICU
Aslam Kazi (52) was rushed to Byculla’s Prince Aly Khan Hospital, where he is recuperating in the ICU

The incident, which occurred aboard INS Kolkata-class destroyer due to be commissioned this month claimed the life of 42-year-old Kuntal Wadhwa, a resident of Naval Officers Residential Area (NOFRA) at Navy Nagar. He was declared dead at Fort’s St George Hospital.

Another navy staffer, Aslam Gafar Kazi (52), was shifted to Byculla’s Prince Aly Khan Hospital around 2 pm, where he is in the intensive care unit. Preliminary inquiries revealed that the commander and staffers were on board INS Kolkata (Yard 701) at MbPT, and a technical snag led the gas in its carbon dioxide chamber to leak.

Dr T P Lahane, dean of JJ Hospital, said, “Wadhwa died due to suffocation and his body is being shifted to the hospital for post-mortem to determine the exact cause of death.” A doctor from Prince Aly Khan Hospital said that Kazi’s condition was stable and would be observed for the next for 24 hours.

Kazi said, “The incident took place in the afternoon on board INS Kolkata where machinery trials were being held. When I got on board, I noticed there were three gas cylinders. A few minutes later, I felt suffocated after inhaling the gas and had to be rushed to hospital.”

A rescue team swung into action and found the naval officials in an unconscious state, but their efforts couldn’t save Wadhwa. A high-level inquiry has been ordered into the incident. The Yellow Gate police have registered a case under Section 174 (accidental death) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Killer spree
Less than two weeks ago, a fire on board submarine Sindhuratna had claimed the lives of two officers, following which navy chief, Admiral DK Joshi, resigned. The mishap is part of a series of accidents that have struck naval vessels in the last seven months. On August 14, there was an explosion aboard INS Sindhurakshak, which sank at the Mumbai harbour, killing all its 18 personnel.

>> Kuntal Wadhwa was on board warship when a technical snag led to the leak, killing him
>> Another staffer Aslam Kazi admitted to Prince Aly Khan Hospital
>> Incident comes days after two officers died in a submarine fire

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